Tourism 'a real growth sector' for Bahrain
Manama, November 10, 2009
Tourism could account for a quarter of Bahrain's income in the next 10 years, it was claimed.
But developers have been accused of ignoring Bahrain's heritage and traditions while planning multi-million dinar seafront properties.
The local population is also being sidelined from the development of such projects, according to Global Banking Corporation (GBCORP) investment banking head Ahmed Mohammed Al Khan.
'There should be proper awareness about the project among the local community and it must be done with the full understanding of the local culture, needs and aspirations,' he told delegates during a major gathering in Manama.
He was speaking on the second and final day of the Second Annual Urban Waterfronts Conference at the Sheraton Bahrain Hotel, which took place under the patronage of Municipalities and Agriculture Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi.
During his speech he argued tourism was one of Bahrain's fastest-growing sectors, currently representing 12 per cent of its total income.
However, he revealed this was expected to rise to 25 per cent by the end of the next decade - with weekend tourism a 'promising growth sector'.
However, he criticised the lack of focus on developing Bahrain's coastlines, saying new projects placed little emphasis on preserving the country's seafaring heritage.
'Bahrain is an island nation and for long has enjoyed a rich maritime lifestyle and a cultural heritage that dates back to the Dilmun civilisation,' he said.
'But unfortunately the island concept has not figured much in the way we live and have developed our habitat.
The conference, which opened on Sunday, was organised by British group Marcusevans and sponsored by Diyar Al Muharraq development.
Al Khan claimed other successful waterfront destinations around the world had used a step-by-step process, inviting the public to participate every step of the way.
'Waterfronts can be very successful and vitalised through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), with community collaboration creating a greater positive impact and stimulus for the local economy and it's a rewarding experience to local residents,' he added.
'So, evaluation and information sharing is absolutely crucial.'
But he stressed it was vital for the population to be involved in their country's development and said waterfront developments could not sustain themselves in isolation.
'There has to be a perfect blend of the modern and the traditional,' he added.
'While local culture and flavour can enrich the development, it also has to focus on a global audience.
'The ideal scenario is therefore to have a development that is for the people, in harmony with their desires, aspirations and needs.'-TradeArabia News Service